What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome associated with widespread pain and fatigue. There are no outward signs of the condition but fibromyalgia symptoms include severe pain, fatigue and stiffness.
It is labelled a syndrome as fibromyalgia is a collection of signs, symptoms and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause.
Fibromyalgia is characterised by widespread muscle pain and fatigue. The word fibromyalgia comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek terms for muscle (myo) and pain (algia).Tender points are particular body locations that are usually somewhat tender for anyone but where people with fibromyalgia feel pain in response to very slight pressure; these tender points are used in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.People who have fibromyalgia may also experience aching, stiffness and tiredness, which can be changeable throughout the day, getting worse with activity. Poor sleep quality and waking up without feeling refreshed is very common. Simple chores or activities may prove difficult to undertake because of muscular fatigue or lack of energy. Many people with fibromyalgia can experience emotional distress including anxiety and depression.
As fibromyalgia is a syndrome it may be difficult to treat. Your GP or rheumatologist will be the primary source of this treatment, referring you to other health professionals including a psychologist, physiotherapist or occupational therapist as needed. You will be required to play an active role in controlling your fibromyalgia, working together with your health professionals. There is no cure, but the symptoms may be managed very successfully. Your doctor may treat fibromyalgia with a variety of medications developed and approved for other purposes.
In this booklet you will find:
- What is fibromyalgia? What are the symptoms – what might you experience?
- What causes fibromyalgia? What has been learned about the impact of trauma, sleep disturbance or illness and fibromyalgia?
- Getting a diagnosis: Understanding the tender points of fibromyalgia
- Treatment and Taking Control: What treatments are available and how you can take care of yourself
- Practicalities: Getting around, managing at home and finding out what benefits are available